A day of “chaos” at the Launceston General Hospital saw nine ambulances ramped and a patient waiting outside for treatment, the health union claims.
According to the Health and Community Services Union, the hospital’s emergency department was overloaded on Monday with triage patients left waiting for a bed.
Union acting secretary Robbie Moore said one patient was forced to wait outside due to the lack of beds.
“A paramedic had to sit with a patient outside the LGH here waiting to just get inside where they then had to wait a lot longer for the patient to be admitted to the emergency department,” he said.
Describing it as a “crisis”, Mr Moore said the situation involving the patient – a male in his late 40s – could have been worse.
“This health crisis that sees patients having to sit outside a hospital, waiting to go inside an emergency department, is simply unacceptable,” he said.
“The entire day was chaos.
“If this isn’t a crisis, I don’t know what is.”
Mr Moore said the patient was OK, but it was lucky the weather was not cold.
The acting secretary called for the government to listen to the experts and hire 250 new nurses, 80 additional paramedics for the Launceston General Hospital.
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the government had re-opened and permanently funded 19 beds on Ward 4D that were closed by Labor, and secured 20 beds at the John L Grove Rehab Centre.
“We understand that there has been increasing demand in our hospitals which is why we’ve invested in more doctors and nurses, more paramedics and opened more beds at the LGH,” he said.
“There will always be unexpected surges in demand – the fact that there were no ambulances ramped at the LGH at 7am [Tuesday] – demonstrates we have the right mechanisms in place to deal with ramping and demand surges when they do occur.
“Rather than campaigning for the Labor Party by spreading misinformation on the LGH, I encourage HACSU to show support for our staff and the excellent work they have done to meet this surge in patient numbers.”
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Mr Moore said ambulances were “ramped nearly all day”, which was concerning with the worst of the flu season over.
“Patients come into the emergency and they’re unable to go to the ward that they need to because there are no beds,” he said.
“That flow-on effect means patients are ramped here at the hospital and yesterday we obviously saw the extreme circumstances where a patient couldn't even get into the building.
“Workers are telling us they’re extremely frustrated that they’re unable to provide patients with the healthcare they need because of the lack of staff, the lack of beds and the lack of facilities.”